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Gonzalez to rejoin rotation; Houser to bullpen

@AdamMcCalvy
July 17, 2019

MILWAUKEE -- In a move the Brewers hope benefits the starting rotation and the bullpen, the club plans to restore veteran left-hander Gio Gonzalez from the 10-day injured list for a Saturday start at Arizona, and will shift 26-year-old Adrian Houser back to bullpen duty. Houser pitched into the seventh

MILWAUKEE -- In a move the Brewers hope benefits the starting rotation and the bullpen, the club plans to restore veteran left-hander Gio Gonzalez from the 10-day injured list for a Saturday start at Arizona, and will shift 26-year-old Adrian Houser back to bullpen duty.

Houser pitched into the seventh inning of his most recent start, but was most effective this season in relief, logging a 1.05 ERA in 14 appearances. Gonzalez, signed in mid-April, was 2-1 with a 3.19 ERA in six starts before being sidelined by shoulder inflammation.

“I think Adrian was making progress,” manager Craig Counsell said. “But Gio has pitched well, and I think Gio can help us at the front of games.”

Gonzalez is coming off a pair of Minor League starts, one for advanced Class A Advanced Carolina and another Monday at Triple-A San Antonio in which he threw 68 pitches and allowed a run on four hits in 4 2/3 innings on what was a trying travel day. He struck out six and didn’t walk a batter in his two rehab starts.

Houser, 26, may still be a starter for the Brewers in the future, but at the moment they like him in relief. He held opponents to a .183 average and struck out 29 in 25 2/3 innings as a reliever before replacing the injured Gonzalez in the rotation.

“Look, it’s experience,” Counsell said. “For these [young] starters, it’s the experience of going out there and understanding what it’s going to take to get through lineups multiple times. It’s just different things. You know, the other team gets to pick the hitters when you’re a starter, and that’s different. You have to get through them two times; sometimes their best hitters three times. That’s harder. And frankly, it requires more skill. It’s a longer adjustment period, but I think the starts in a consistent manner for a little bit here helped Adrian, for sure. He got good feedback from it, and he’ll be better for it. I think he’ll be better for it in the bullpen, too.”

Shaw on a tear
Third baseman Travis Shaw had another productive night for San Antonio on Tuesday with two walks and a single in the Missions’ sixth straight win, making Shaw 11-for-26 with five home runs, 13 RBIs and eight walks over his last nine games.

If he stays hot, Shaw will force his way back to the big leagues. But where will he fit? Keston Hiura is now firmly entrenched at second base, hitting .632 with a pair of homers on the Brewers’ homestand entering Wednesday’s series finale against the Braves. Hiura’s return pushed All-Star Mike Moustakas to third. And the Brewers have been getting excellent production at first base lately between Eric Thames and a resurgent Jesus Aguilar.

“We’ll find room for productive players,” Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said, without offering any specifics. “We can have creative roster structures. We’ve done it in the past. We’ll find room for productive players.”

Is it getting tempting to bring Shaw back?

“I think we’re pleased to see what he’s done so far in Triple-A,” Stearns said. “We also recognize it’s been a relatively short period of time, and we want to be sure we’re giving him sufficient opportunity to work through it and get on a roll.”

Nelson ready for rehab assignment
Jimmy Nelson, on the 10-day IL with a right elbow injury, is scheduled to begin a Minor League rehabilitation assignment on Sunday for Class A Wisconsin. The club doesn’t plan to lengthen Nelson as a starter this time.

“We’re going to do it one step at a time,” Counsell said. “I think that’s how we have to take it with him. One healthy step at a time.”

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram and like him on Facebook.